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An ode to the PK3, Monty’s tropical cocktail that makes all the pain go away

Monty’s Coconut Grove PK3
Photograph: Courtesy Monty’s Coconut Grove

It’s just like the name says: The Pain Remover at beloved Coconut Grove watering hole Monty’s makes all the hurt and stress—and, frequently, all memory—go away.

Known by all who frequent the staple waterfront haunt as the PK3, this tropical delight is made with dark rum (three shots of it), cream of coconut, pineapple and orange juice. It goes for a very cute $6 Monday through Friday during happy hours, but everyone knows when 4pm on Friday hits, it’s prime PK3 time. Monty’s currently shakes up between 35 and 40 thousand PK3 cocktails every year.

The spiked punch affectionately known as PK3 (short for Painkiller 3) to anyone who has witnessed far too many sunsets at Monty’s is officially listed as the Pain Remover on the menu, with strength options #1, #2 and #3 indicating the number of rum shots. But who are we kidding? The extra rum only sets you back an extra dollar, and it’s been a long week. You’re going all-in for the three. You might regret it tomorrow, but tonight you’re living your best life.

Monty Trainer founded Monty’s in 1969 and it’s been home to countless movie scenes, family gatherings and, of course, co-ed debauchery ever since. Eventually, Trainer’s partner and partner’s son, Steve Kneapler, took over operations of the Grove hot spot. Kneapler was all about island life and did a fair amount of traveling through the Caribbean. In his adventures, he came across the Soggy Dollar Bar, home to the original Painkiller cocktail. Created in the 1970s by Daphne Henderson at the Soggy Dollar Bar at White Bay in the British Virgin Islands, the OG Painkiller uses Pussers Rum, a spirit made specifically for the Royal Navy and used most frequently in tiki-style cocktails.

Kneapler fell in love with the tropical concoction and decided he had to have it on the menu at Monty’s. Tasking one of his bartenders to recreate it, Kneapler’s Painkiller for Monty’s wasn’t quite the same. They tweaked it to create their own version and decided to keep the Painkiller name.

One day, a Monty’s guest complained to Kneapler that the drink was way too sweet and they could barely taste the alcohol. And that’s when the real fun began. Monty’s decided to level-up the cocktail, allowing guests to choose their experience: Painkiller #1, #2 or #3. Eventually, it was discovered that Pusser’s Rum Company had trademarked the name Painkiller, so Monty’s changed the name to Pain Remover on its menus. That name change happened nearly 15 years ago, and imbibers still giddily order up their PK3s at the bar to this day—because, let’s face it, only wimps order a PK1 or 2.

No matter how bad the hangover hurts in the morning, it has yet to keep us from coming back for more. There’s just something magical about sipping the deceptively sweet tiki drink from a plastic cup while dancing the night away on the Coconut Grove marina. We questioned a few locals on their experiences with the famed PK3, and the verdict was always the same: Some mornings were filled with regret, yes. But in the moment, those few PK3s were just what the doctor ordered to wash away the pain of a long school or work week.

Diandra Lamas, Yelp Community Manager: If you have never ordered one, you MUST ORDER A PK3. It’s tropical paradise in a cup, and from level 1 to level ,3 they up the rum. Go for 3. Just do it.

Jason Perez, financial advisor: There’s something about the PK3 that can instantly make you feel all sorts of happy, no matter what kind of week you’ve had. Even if the next morning, all the stress is back, it’s always worth it.

Gabe Urrutia, author of Miami Cocktails: The Pain Remover #3 has a special place in Miami cocktail history. Before we were known for incredible bars and cocktails, the Pain Remover was already legendary. Locals and tourists alike flock to Monty’s famous happy hour to enjoy shucked oysters and peel & eat shrimp paired with the Pain Remover #3. The blend of pineapple juice, coconut cream and a touch of OJ with rum has always been a perfect way to kick off the weekend and holidays. Long live the Pain Remover.

Mary Coons, paralegal: When I went to Monty’s for my friend Gabby’s 21st birthday, we drank PK3s and tequila shots for four hours. I vomited out of our designated driver’s car in line at Taco Bell and ran my first 5K the next day. I swore to never drink a PK3 again, but of course I’ve had several since then.

Bobby Gilardi, beverage director at Ariete/Taurus: The Monty’s PK3 was the only memory I had of my college days, because after one, I couldn’t remember a thing! Friday happy hours at Monty’s with a PK3 in my hand is where you would find me.

Samantha Schnur, The Naughty Fork: One time I drank three PK3s in one sitting and I swear I decided I was ready to spend months looking for the lost city of Atlantis.

Aubrey Shaffer, speech professor at UM and FIU: Some of my best college memories were at Monty’s drinking Painkillers! The Painkiller tastes like the tropics! Rum, pineapple, coconut and orange juice—it’s so delicious and refreshing on a hot Miami day. It’s definitely my go-to drink at Monty’s and it is a MUST TRY. It’s strong, so if you need a cocktail pick me up, the painkiller is the remedy!

Briana Ciraulo, publicist at DKC and proud Grovite: I’ll always stand by PK3s and all the fuzzy memories that came with them. My favorite thing to do would be to make “Monty’s plans,” AKA we’d all have three or four PK3s and then make these elaborate Friday-night plans. We’d go home to change and pass out instead. It’s still my favorite happy hour spot, I just don’t always order as many PK3s these days. See you Friday!

Tiffany Barranco, co-founder of Word of Mouth Effect PR: The PK3 brings back so many memories of my college days at UM! My sorority sisters and I used to go to Monty’s every Friday for happy hour. We’d get there early to get a table - if you were at Monty’s on a Friday for happy hour pretty much everyone there was from UM and you could barely move. PK3s were always our go-to. They made you feel like you were on vacation somewhere and made you forget you were drinking too much rum!

 

  

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